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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Shed: Exploded view at the Royal Exchange

Review by Steve Griffiths

This is a play which won the prestigious Bruntwood prize for new writing for Phoebe Éclair-Powell. It has now been put on the stage under the direction of Atri Banerjee.

I have to admit that it was with trepidation that I sat down to watch a one act play with no intermission. What if it was so poor but escape was out of the question? Would it assail me, old, white, male stale? Fortunately the splendid cast soon had me in their spell. As there is no printed biography you will have to go online to see how they came to be chosen. From the youngster Norah Lopez Holden to the Wil Johnson playing an Alzheimer gripped Tony there was not a weak link. Not often you can say that with total honesty.

The open stage with no visible set allowed the cast to show how actors go about their craft. Using word, Actions, and expressions to show how relationships develop and change over time. How small cracks can become gaping chasms despite the best efforts of the couple. How communication becomes harder despite the best intentions and love of one individual for the other.

Yes, it’s a demanding play as the scenes change by the minute and the dialogue overlaps. In addition, the time shifts are dynamic though well signposted.  But once you tune in it all makes perfect sense. And the reinforcing as two characters end on the same words is specially effective.

Two things which still puzzle me; shed I sort of get as an exploded series of relationships relating to the Cornelia Parker art work. A friend who went to the play before me asked about the words scribbled by the cast on the stage. I don’t know why . But this is a minor query. The plays the thing.

On until 02 March

Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester M2 7DH

Phone: 0161 833 9833

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